Chronic Hepatitis is a severe and often fatal disease which causes inflammation and death of liver tissue. Whilst English Springer Spaniels are by no means the only breed of dog to suffer from this disease, it seems they may be more vulnerable to it than others.
Clinical signs include sudden-onset jaundice, vomiting, lethargy and often a marked high temperature. The disease is seen most often in young to middle-aged female dogs, although it has also been recognised in males and older dogs up to 10 years of age.
A full-scale research project investigating the cause of Chronic Hepatitis in English Springer Spaniels is being carried out at The Queen’s Veterinary School Hospital, University of Cambridge, by Principal Researchers Penny Watson and Nick Bexfield.
Although the researchers haven’t yet found the cause, their progress has been promising. They are currently working on a theory that it may be caused by a unique virus which has not been recognised before in dogs, and they need to rule this out before considering other potential causes. They are also studying the pedigrees of affected ESS to see if there is any evidence that the disease may be inherited.
Blood samples and liver biopsies from affected dogs are still needed, so if you are unfortunate enough to own an affected dog, the researchers (Nick Bexfield & Penny Watson) appeal for you to contact them (Tel: 01223 337621 Email: ).
In order to help with their genetic studies, the researchers have also launched an appeal for blood samples and pedigrees from healthy English Springer Spaniels, aged 7 years or older, that have never suffered from hepatitis.
Funding for the initial part of the project was obtained from Cambridge Infectious Diseases Consortium (CIDC). Further major funding for an additional three years from August 2009 has now been secured from the Wellcome Trust Charitable Trust. However, additional voluntary contributions are always very much welcomed, particularly to cover the expensive genetics work, and a fund has been set up within The Kennel Club Charitable Trust specifically for the hepatitis research project. Any donations should therefore be sent to: Cas Oakes, email Charitable Trust Administrator,
The Kennel Club Charitable Trust, 1-5 Clarges Street, Piccadilly, London W1J 8AB, with a covering letter requesting that the donation should be added to the ESS Hepatitis Research Project fund.
For further information, please click on the following links:
ESS Breed Clubs Health Co-ordinators:
Lesley Bloomfield (Tel: 01923 823579 Email:
Louise Scott (Tel: 020 8427 3396 Email: